Friday, November 18, 2022

Emerald of Earth – EPISODE 44: CONCLUSION – The End of Inamma…

The lift doors squelched open and Vice-Captain Ruby Marcillon and Dr. Tasia Viahakis stepped into the hangar. The vice-captain shouted, “Emerald!”

Emerald exclaimed, “Tia-avó Ruby?

Berg shouted, “Run for us!” The two women scrambled across the hangar floor as a large red spot appeared on the door of the bolus lift. The door squelched shut, but the laser spot created coils of gray smoke wherever it stopped and swung wildly across the walls, as if trying to follow the two women. “It’s trying to use a cutting laser!”

They skidded to a stop near the rest of the group. They all retreated to squat among the metal shelves. Dr. Viahakis carried a thin silver briefcase.

Ruby said, “You don’t think I’d make you face this alone, gatinho?” She looked at Berg and said, “Report.”

Berg sketched out what had happened since they’d grabbed the gravity modified cargo float with the gray boxes.

Ruby nodded to the cargo float, “Those boxes?”

Berg and Emerald nodded.

“She has a weapon,” Berg said to the vice-captain. Scowling, Dr. Viahakis knelt in front of him and held her hand out to Søren who pushed the first aid kit over to her. He stepped back, saying, “I don’t need any help.”

Ruby lifted her chin and said, “I don’t want you bleeding to death just when I need you. Let Dr. Viahakis heal you.”

He grunted, but stepped forward so the doctor could work on him.

Emerald said, “Why would Inamma be afraid of this? It’s just a robot.”

Ruby bit her lower lip then said, “This information is for your ears only. If you tell anyone else, Dr. Viahakis may have to chemically alter your memories.” She paused. “We think Inamma is the remnant of an alien confederation sent into the Solar System to destroy an indigenous, intelligent, space-faring civilization on Venus.” She looked at Emerald, “That’s what your parents thought as well. The images your parents received – and that my clumsy brother allowed you to see as well – were our Solar ancestors and may be the sole reason we evolved on Earth. They were brutal and we think they forced the hand of some sort of alien alliance. They came here, battles ensued, and at one point a microscopic black hole – we think they used the same technology we’re using on SOLAREX – was released and drifted through the Solar System. It didn’t destroy Venus, but either clipped it or an immense asteroid it drew in its wake did, giving it a retrograde rotation, vaporizing its oceans, and knocking its moon out of orbit after nearly destroying it. We know that moon as Mercury, today.”

When she was done bandaging Berg, Dr. Viahakis opened the thin case. From it, she took a normal, flat screen computer pad. But mounted at the top were a pair of antenna, looped to form two crossing circles of wire.

“What’s that?” Ayaka asked.

Dr. Viahakis looked at Ruby, who nodded. The scientist said, “Using Emerald’s boxes and the power cubes, we’ve figured out how to passively detect Inamma’s peculiar energy.” She stood up, touched a key then swung in a circle, scanning the hangar. The machine made no sound, but she nodded to Colonel Berg, pointing with one finger while still holding the pad. He drew his weapon and nodded to Emerald.

He said, “Emerald’s weapon is the effective one. If I can drive Inamma this way, perhaps she can blast the thing.” He looked at her, “You saw what the cube did to the wing of the lander?”

Emerald nodded as he moved away from them.

Energy fire came from across the hangar a few moments later. Then Berg ran past them, zigzagging over the floor while the red spot of the cutting laser skittered after him. They could hear the click and whir of Inamma as it suddenly stepped into the open.

Emerald lifted the cube as Berg shouted, “Fire!”

Inamma had grabbed two tasers, fumbling them on, spattering the humans with the shocker darts.

All of them, including Berg, dropped to the floor like marionettes whose strings were suddenly cut.

But for Emerald, it was nothing like the first time she’d been stunned. Emerald cried, “It’s getting away!” She tried to chase it, but stumbled on numbed feet. Inamma dropped the tasers and skittered back in among the landers on all six blades.

Vice-Captain Ruby snapped, “The stun is temporary and light! Whoever gets moving first pull the emergency bar over by the control room!”

Emerald fought against the paralysis, feeling her feet twitch. A moment later, she could move them and dragged herself painfully to her knees.

From among the parked landers, one of the smallest manta-ray landers fired, rising on a thrumming gMod field.

Dr. Viahakis shouted, “It’s getting away!”

Søren was on his knees as well, crawling toward the control room. Emerald reached it first. Painted fluorescent orange, the emergency bar was horizontal and marked with signs that said it shouldn’t be pulled for anything but dire circumstances. Emerald reached up and collapsed, pulling it. A red light began to flash above it and a tone sounded in the huge space, starting low, rising higher then repeating.

Berg, Dr. Viahakis, and Vice-Captain Marcillon were still laid out. Ayaka was only now twitching. Daniel was rolling his head side-to-side and moaning. From the PA, a voice said, “This is Solar Explorer Control, hangar personnel, identify your...”

Ruby shouted, “This is Vice-Captain Ruby Marcillon! Check voiceprint then seal all airlocks in the hangar to my voice command only!”

There was a pause. “Aye, Captain! Control of all airlock...”

The manta flyer hovered next to the wall and banged into it. Then it rose a bit until it hovered higher than the cargo lander’s fuselage. It surged backward then forward, ramming the hangar wall. Finally, it moved forward enough to hover over the empty hangar floor in front of the cargo landers.

Ruby shouted, “Cut power to the hangar and damp all gravity modification generators!” The lights went out. The gravity went out. From the far end of the hangar, the little manta wing shuttle must have shot straight into the air as its resistance to the gravity holding it down was released. A shriek of metal against stone echoed from high above. Anything that wasn’t strapped down began to slowly rise from the floor.

Dr. Viahakis moaned, “I get space sick...”

Colonel Berg and Ruby shoved off from the shelves. Emerald pushed off from the control room window, following her great aunt as she and Berg grabbed a wing of the mid-sized lander. Ruby shouted, “Emergency lights!”

Red glowed from the ceiling and floor.

The two-person lander floated above the floor. It spun abruptly as its attitude jets all fired in the same direction.

“Use the cube!” Berg shouted. The lander slowed then turned for the airlock doors. Emerald raised the weapon as Inamma fired the thrusters, accelerating for the huge airlock doors.

The Colonel shouted, “It’s going to try and break out!”

Ruby exclaimed, “The door’s over a meter thick...”

Emerald cried, “It’s going to kill itself!”

The lander hit the airlock door and exploded in a flash of light.

Floating near Emerald, Daniel arched his back and curled his arms tightly against his body and screamed. There were other screams in the hangar from deeper in the darkness. Ayaka and Søren watched dispassionately, floating arm-in-arm, Søren holding on to the shelves. Even Dr. Viahakis watched, anchored to a metal shelf.

Stunned, the three Humans grabbed the wing and tail of the floating lander and stopped. They stared at the blackened crater on the airlock door.

Inamma had been destroyed.

“Why did it do that?” Emerald whispered.

The vice-captain shook her head and called, “Re-engage gMod in main hangar, quickly but gradual.” A moment later, everything began to sink to the floor until they were under full gravity again.”

“Maybe it was afraid of us taking it apart if we caught it? It wasn’t going anywhere any more once we locked it down here.”

Berg limped to the door, looking up at the blackened crater. Shaking his head, he said, “The intelligence could very well have been sixty-five million years old. It had learned and seen so much, I can’t imagine it just killed itself because it was afraid of us.” He looked back at Ruby and said, “I can’t imagine it was afraid of anything.”

Ruby bit her lower lip then looked down at Emerald. “Emerald had a weapon it was afraid of. Very afraid. Maybe there are other things that she has access to that we don’t know about.” She nodded slowly and touched Emerald’s shoulder. “If you’re going to be an active and integral crewmembers, you’ve got quite a bit of training ahead of you.”

Emerald nodded slowly. Dr. Viahakis glanced at her. She raised an eyebrow, adding, “Congratulations, Emerald.”

Ruby strode to the interior hangar airlock just as a security force burst through. She waved them toward the moaning Daniel. Søren, Ayaka, and the wounded Colonel Berg sagged with relief. Ruby caught Emerald’s eye, smiled and lifted her chin.

Emerald nodded to her great aunt. Then Vice-Captain Ruby Marcillon of the SOLAR EXPLORER, Humanity’s Last Greatest Adventure™, disappeared into the corridor beyond.

THIS is the last episode of EMERALD OF EARTH: HEIRS OF THE SHATTERED SPHERES. If you liked what you read, share the link below with a friend! Episode 1 is at the bottom:

Guy Stewart is a retired teacher and counselor, with science fiction for young people and adults published in ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact; podcast at CAST OF WONDERS; and in CRICKET the Magazine for Children. For links to his other online works, go to For an interview with him about EMERALD OF EARTH: HEIRS OF THE SHATTERED SPHERES, try this: